Sunday Sermon

Rules Lawyering

Several times recently, I have been accused of being a "rules lawyer." For those of you who are not RPGers, a rules lawyer is a player who memorizes every tiny rule and debates with the ref and/or other players over the correct interpretation of them. It's sometimes used interchangeably with the terms "munchkin" and "powergamer" (players who try to work the game system to their benefit).

Now, before you all decide that I'm unpleasant to play a game with, let me assure you, I'm no munchkin. I've been known to play the lamest imaginable characters, and play them just for the excitement of trying to survive. I frequently argue rules to my own detriment. It's not that I want to win, but rather, IF I win, I want it to be a clean win, accomplished completely within the rules.

To clarify further, let me say that I don't force everyone to play strictly by the rules as they are written - house rules are fine. I do, however, insist that the house rules be; 1) clearly explained beforehand, and 2) applied evenly to everyone. It would also be nice if they didn't change from game to game, or at least not without meeting 1 and 2 above, and giving some explanation as to why they are changing. Provided the person running the game does those things, I can play any game quite happily, regardless of winning or losing. However, when the person running the game changes rules arbitrarily, or demonstrates that they are more concerned with aggrandizing their ego than creating a good gaming experience, I am the first person to get pissed off. I am not the type to be pissed off quietly.

Which brings me to my rant for today...

I play dodgeball in the local recreation center's adult coed league. I believe it's designed to allow one to exercise and exorcise. The game works up a good sweat if you put some effort into it, and the demons of playground bullies past are conjured almost immediately when you step on the court. The balls are softer today, and there is so much less at stake that it's easy to put your childhood traumas behind you. For example, you can stink up the court, getting eliminated early in every game, and no one will shun you at the lunch table later...

At least, it should be that. Unfortunately, the Dumb Cunt (I think her official title is "League Supervisor" but "Dumb Cunt" really sums it up better) who runs the game is ruining that for all of us.

We are supposed to play on our honor - calling ourselves out when we are hit. To facilitate that, the league sent out the "official rules" by email to all of us. Perhaps it is too much for me to assume that everyone would read those rules, but I think that at least the DC (I'm planning on telling her that DC stands for "Dodgeball Coordinator") would have done so. Instead, we have played by different rules every week - some of them diametrically opposed to the written rules, and almost all of them are different from the rules we learned as children. Worse yet, there is a clause in the printed rules that says that only team captains can approach the DC for rules clarifications.

-Remember the "twofer" rule from the playground? You know - you throw the ball and it bounces off of one opponent and it hits another before hitting the ground; both are out, right? Not when the DC is in charge.

-Remember the "save" rule? When the ball bounces off you and one of your teammates catches it before it hits the ground; you're not out, right? Nope - DC overruled this as well.

-Remember how hitting someone in the head put you out, not them? DC ruled that no one is out, and you just have to be more careful next time...

All of the examples above are covered explicitly in the rules - this is not a question of interpretation. Even more irritating than this, however, is her way of "officiating" the game. Last week, she told us that the "save" rule no longer applied. Of course, a few minutes later, a guy on the other team caught a ball off of one of his teammates, and they all celebrated the save. I pointed out to them that the DC had changed that rule, and they disagreed. When we asked her if the man hit was out or not she replied, "I don't know, I wasn't watching." My rage at this kind of incompetence knows no bounds - she is, presumably, getting paid to do this. The least she could do is watch the fucking game.

In short, aside from showing up with the balls every week, she has failed in the basic tasks of being the "league supervisor" but she has succeeded incredibly well at being the DC.

For this week's game, I have a new strategy. I am going to play by the printed rules, even if no one else does. I will take my hits by the rules, and not worry about those around me. If she calls me out at some point, I will ask my team captain to ask her to show him exactly what rule she is applying, so he can show it to me, so I can play the game properly...


becca said...

I tend to be a stickler for the rules too. Last week I was playing kickball with my campers and made a call against my own team. Some of the kids were really pissed, but I thought it was important that I be a good role model and play by the rules even if it means we don't get the run. And I REALLY like to win. I sympathize with your situation with this DC- stick to your guns.

Teh Dr. said...

it may cheer you up to know, and I know it does me, that things are going pretty horrible in her life right now.

I would never wish bad things on her, ok I would, but that doesn't mean I have to wish her well either.

Mayren said...

I understand the Rules Lawyer thing. It's not really lawyering if your trying to play fair for everyone to enjoy the win in good conscience.
I would like to point out that DC was most likely put in your way as an obstacle to your path of enlightenment and now you are faced with finding a way past that will uplift your spirit rather than bring it back down to name calling and wishing ill on her.

I know deep down you are just letting off steam. Better here than in the physical world.
so Bring it on Linus. Let us know how you really feel.
You deserve a big hug sweets.
Make sure all of Flock Hall 2.0 complys with the HUG handouts today.

Raksha said...

You should start hitting people with sticks and declaring them "out." Then, when people try to call you on it, just bring up how the rules were never laid out and those that were don't seem to apply to everyone, so unless she wants to fix that, then you can do whatever the hell you want!

Mayren said...

Raksha is too funny.

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